Los Angeles Firefighters Perform Swiftwater Rescue

Saturday, December 31, 2005 |

On Saturday, December 31, 2005 at 2:56 PM (PST), ten Companies of Los Angeles Firefighters, one Rescue Ambulance, two Swift Water Rescue Teams, one Heavy Rescue Company, one Hazardous Materials Squad, two LAFD Helicopters, two EMS Battalion Captains, one Battalion Chief Officer Command Team and one Division Chief Officer Command Team, all under the direction of Assistant Chief Greg West responded to a Swiftwater Rescue in the Los Angeles River south of Los Feliz Boulevard in the Silverlake/Griffith Park area.

Summoned by City of Los Angeles Park Rangers, scores of Firefighters were deployed strategically on the ground, water and in the air.

The first-due LAFD Engine Company arrived quickly to find an adult male clinging to vegetation on a sandbar approximately thirty feet off the river's west shore, among waters moving 20 to 25 miles-per-hour.

The 53 year-old man, who stated he was homeless and living in the river, had been stranded for an unspecified amount of time before being noticed by the Rangers.

Conscious and alert, the man was immediately thrown a Fire Department flotation vest tethered to a rope. He donned the vest in accordance with Firefighters instructions, but then against their wishes, immediately jumped into the swift-moving water.

Thanks to Firefighters having firmly secured the vest and planned for this potential action, the man was immediately swung to shore in a tangential fashion, where he was readily pulled from the water by Firefighters.

In fair condition yet exhibiting signs of hypothermia, the man was quickly stripped of his damp clothing, wrapped in warm blankets and placed in a waiting LAFD ambulance. He was transported to the Los Angeles County - USC Medical Center for further evaluation.

Firefighters downstream on LAFD personal watercraft, serving as a safety element, were pulled from the water after all Fire Department personnel retreated from the shore.

A pair of Los Angeles Fire Department helicopters which had been poised to assist in the rescue, were subsequently used to patrol more than 15 adjacent miles of the Los Angeles River for any signs of additional victims or persons imperiled. None were discovered.

No other injuries were reported.

The men and women of the Los Angeles Fire Department remind local residents of the significant danger of swift water in flood control channels, and ask them to take the precautions necessary to remain safe during winter storms in Los Angeles.

In the event someone is trapped or endangered by swift moving water, Firefighters stress the importance of closely following rescuer instructions to avoid greater injury and possible loss of life.

Submitted by Brian Humphrey, Spokesman
Los Angeles Fire Department


ftgfire said...

Nice work as always by LAFD. Why do people never listen and learn??!! The same thing happens here in Australia they tell them stay where they are but they never do!! Is there an email address for the swift water rescue unit please? I have a question for them re tsunami preparedness of their unit.

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